Pinchas – An offering of food

Something we do every day is eat. And just like all the other things we do all the time, we come to forget how special it can be. Eating is perhaps one of the holiest things we can do. Rav Tzvi Hirsch of Ziditchov once said, “When I was young, I prayed to be able to reach the same spiritual levels through eating that I accomplish through davening. Today, thank God, I pray that I reach the same spiritual heights through davening as I do when I eat.” The Gemara in Pesachim (101a) says, “Kiddush can only be made in the setting of a meal”, on a deeper level this teaches us that Kedusha can be made when one eats. Teaching that through the holy action of eating one can attain Kedusha and much more. In what way could something so physical like eating be holy? Because the food we eat contains in it spiritual sparks. In the bread, in the meat, in the herring. These sparks need to be uplifted out of physical creation and we can accomplish that by making a bracha on our food. If we eat with the intention of serving God and make a bracha before and after we free these holy sparks from their physical imprisonment. But one other way food can be holy is by sharing it, by feeding others. We know what was taught to us by Avraham Avinu when he abandoned a conversation with Hashem to go tend to some guests; that feeding others – hachnasas orchim is more important than greeting the Shechina. (Gemara Shabbos 127a)  Rashi in Meseches Brachos (55a) tells us that by having guests we turn our table into an altar through which we serve God. 

Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev was famous among other things for his great generosity; his home was open 24/7 365 days a year for anyone who needed a good meal, his hospitality was legendary. Every Shabbos and Yom Tov all of his Chasidim were invited to join in his meal, and at least a hundred people would join him every week without fail. Yet, the cost of serving meals to more than one hundred people each week was extremely pricey. And he would never accept donations from anyone, he paid for all of it from his pocket! The rebbetzin wasn’t too happy, “Your pockets are not so deep – we cannot afford to continue this. We are in debt because of the generosity we show, can you at least ask the Chasidim to chip in a little bit? They would jump at the chance.” “It’s not so simple,” replied Rav Levi “The pasuk in Parshas Pinchas says: ‘Es Korbani Lachmi L’Aishei – My Korban, My food is for the fires [of the mizbeach]’ (28:2) Aishei, for the fires can also be read as L’Ishei, for my people. Giving food to people is my korban to Hashem. It must be from my own pocket.” 

In the above pasuk Hashem called the daily sacrifices His “food”. Because just as regular food sustains us physically, His “food” sustains us spiritually. The three daily meals perhaps stem from the three daily korbanos;  morning, noon, and evening which then became the three daily prayers: Shachris, Mincha, and Maariv after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. But the ability to serve Hashem with a Korban isn’t gone completely, it has just moved into our homes, onto our tables and in our prayers. Our daily meals and our daily prayers are what sustain us physically and spiritually, so when we eat we must understand that we are not only fulfilling our physical needs but when making the proper brachos we also fulfill our spiritual needs. There is great opportunity for spirituality in everything that surrounds us, it just needs to be tapped into with the proper intentions. May we merit to have a beautiful new Beis HaMikdash to bring Korbanos in, speedily in our days.

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